Ricky Rouse Has a Gun is weird. But in a good way. It has a couple of ‘asks’ of readers, though, that may not be considered, at least not by mainstream media standards, politically appropriate:
1. The protagonist, Richard Rouse, is a American Army deserter from Afghanistan and, sort of, a deadbeat dad.
2. A group of terrorists terrorizing a theme park in China are Americans.
I love those asks. In the comic book worlds of the action/suspense/superhero genres, the heroes so often are clear-cut ‘good’ and the worlds themselves so often black and white and good and evil, that I love anything that challenges those assumptions and brings us something closer to the grey Real World.
But the weirdness, yes: The premise is that Rouse ends up in Shanghai, working for a Chinese rip-off theme park, dressed in Mickey Mouse rip-off costume character named (after him) Ricky Rouse. As the action gets underway in Die Hard fashion, Rouse and the terrorists are all dressed in rip-off cartoon animal costumes, which both kinda zany funny, and kinda Dante’s Inferno-esque, and is a nod to Robert Rodriguez’s beautiful movie mess, Once Upon A Time In Mexico. I think.
The funny drops away pretty soon, though, while visually, the story remains interesting, even if in the back of my mind I was like, ‘Well, does the sniper still have to be wearing the elephant/Dumbo costume?’ But just go with it, baby. Suspend that disbelief.
Although the artwork by John Aggs is good, with a dark grainyness that makes the theme park seem what it is—a sort of shadow to the real thing—I found the dialogue clunky in parts. Not the parts featuring Chinese people speaking in translation, but Rouse’s convos. Maybe it’s because the set-up is so Die Hard, that I wanted Bruce Willis’s man-of-few-words schtick.
I also couldn’t help being fascinated with the initial premise of a soldier deserting from Afghanistan, which takes an idea from the (great) book, Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien, but then jumps the soldier straight to China. I’m really interested in how a deserter could make his way out of Afghanistan and all the way to China, more so than a(nother) Die Hard romp. Though I do like well-done Die Hard romps. Maybe writer Jörg Tittel can do a prequel?
Still, by three-fourths of the way in, I was thinking that this would be a four star review, until I got the very end, which I won’t spoil, but which I felt spoiled the overall story, by taking me out of my willingness-to-suspend-disbelief world. Tittle opts for zany/easy versus complicated/hard, where there could have been another not-politically-appropriate reason why the terrorists are American.
But it was mostly a good read, with good action and good pacing, and bonus cool points for Rouse’s family being interracial and not a big deal at all.
I don’t know. Ricky Rouse Has A Gun is weird. You might like it.